The 127-year-old nonprofit National Geographic Society is selling a majority stake in its media properties, including National Geographic magazine, to 21st Century Fox for $725 million through an expanded partnership.
The agreement announced Wednesday will give the company controlled by Rupert Murdoch's family a 73 percent stake in the new National Geographic Partners venture. The society retains 27 percent ownership.
The arrangement brings together National Geographic's magazine with its cable channels and other media businesses. National Geographic originally partnered with Fox in 1997 to launch the National Geographic Channel. Officials said aligning the brands will help fuel future growth.
"This expanded partnership, bringing together all of the media and consumer activities under the National Geographic umbrella ... creates vast opportunities and enables this business to be even more successful in a digital environment," said James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox.
The new venture will be governed by a board with equal representation from Fox and National Geographic. Declan Moore, a 20-year veteran of the society, will be CEO of National Geographic Partners.
Gary Knell, the president and CEO of the National Geographic Society, said the new venture would deliver an ongoing revenue stream to help fund grants and programs that support science and research worldwide. The transaction also increases the society's endowment to nearly $1 billion. Knell will be the first board chairman of the new venture.
The nonprofit society will retain its National Geographic Museum in Washington and plans to double its investment in science, research and education programs. Future plans call for a new education center devoted to improving geographic skills of high school students and the creation of centers of excellence in cartography, journalism and photography.